Regulation of multidrug resistance by pro-inflammatory cytokines

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2006 Jun;6(4):295-311. doi: 10.2174/156800906777441753.


Various mechanisms have been implicated in the development of resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy. Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a phenomenon in which cancer cells are resistant to the cytotoxic effects of various structurally and mechanistically unrelated chemotherapeutic agents. One major mechanism by which this occurs is through the over-expression of ATP-dependent drug efflux transporters such as the P-glycoprotein (PGP) and multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP). Regulation of MDR can occur at many levels including transcriptional, mRNA, protein and post-translational. In recent years it has been demonstrated that alterations in the expression and activity of the MDR transporters are seen in numerous tissues during an inflammatory response. An acute inflammatory response is associated with many conditions including infection, injury, hypoxia and stress and is known to result in the induction of several pro-inflammatory cytokines. Whether the function of cytokines can be harnessed in overcoming drug resistance of tumors has yet to be examined and explored. In this review, we will focus on the various studies investigating the regulation of MDR during an inflammatory response, in particular by cytokines. The mediators and pathways involved as well as the possible mechanisms of MDR regulation will be discussed. It is hoped that by understanding the clinical importance of inflammatory mediators in MDR, new doors will open and future insights will lead to the development of novel immunotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / genetics
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active
  • Inflammation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System